If the best holiday present you could wish for this season comes in the form of utter escapism, there are some fine hotels and resorts everywhere from Ohio and Florida to Mexico and Sumatra that have guests covered with things like empty waves to surf, rooftop igloos for cozy meals, and much more this festive season.
If you’re the type of person who never does Christmas in a small way, Gaylord Hotels is just the chain for you right now. At properties from Florida and Tennessee to Texas, Colorado and Maryland, the chain is going all out with the Christmas cheer and themed decor, from roof to rafters.
This year’s brand new Mission: Save Christmas featuring ELF is the anchor offering at Gaylord Palms, Gaylord Opryland, Gaylord Texan and Gaylord Rockies. Guests get to join Buddy the Elf to help Santa’s sleigh fly and there’s all kinds of multisensory fun on tap in the candy cane forest, the iconic department store from the movie and during a virtual snowball fight in Central Park.
If you’re looking for snow in Florida to bring on the seasonal vibes, Gaylord Palms’ awesome Snow Factory has ice coaster rides and lots of the falling white stuff. And themed breakfasts with Rudolph and Charlie Brown and friends are among the offerings at other Gaylord Hotels this holiday season. You can find the whole range of individual hotel offerings here.
Divi and Tamarijn All Inclusives, Aruba
For something easier on the wallet but equally warm and with requisite turquoise waters, trade pine trees for palm trees this holiday season with an escape to Aruba’s all-inclusive Divi and Tamarijn resorts.
Both popular oceanfront Oranjestad resorts are pouring on the holiday programming in December, with a Christmas Eve dinner buffet, live themed holiday music, holiday karaoke, mimosa Champagne breakfasts and a New Year’s fireworks display to ring in 2022 right.
Kandui Resort, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
The best holiday present you could grant any surfer on your list is pretty straightforward if far-flung—any of Indonesia’s epic waves. And some of the best ones in the legendary archipelago are found at Kandui Resort in the Mentawai Islands, off the positively palm-fringed western coast of Sumatra.
The holiday season here means shoulder-season for surf, with shoulder to head-high barrels the ocean’s standard offering. And with 72-hour quarantines still the norm to enter Indonesia (trust us, it’s worth it for these empty waves!), this all-inclusive surf resort is offering some of its lowest rates ever to tempt visitors to spend the holidays hanging ten, from $395 per day, all-inclusive, for double occupancy. Getting barreled in Indo when its best waves are still empty? Well, that’s priceless, obviously.
Barnsley Resort, Georgia
If the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia sound like an atmospheric spot to ring in the holidays, guess what? They are. And Barnsley Resort is hard to beat for yuletide spirit, with things like gingerbread house crafting, wreath-making workshops, breakfast with Santa and a Christmas brunch on tap in the lead-up to the holidays.
Book the Light up the Holidays promotion for stays through Jan. 2, 2022 from $315 per night and get a $50 resort credit you can use on dining or something altogether more exciting—like clay shooting, axe throwing and horseback riding, for starters.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives
Making a gingerbread house at home with the kids for the holidays is plenty cute. But for some more epic holiday pastry decorating, escape to a villa at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands with your family for a full calendar of celebratory fun offered with the hotel’s Embrace the Festive Season package.
Valid for stays Dec. 18, 2021, through Jan. 9, 2022, the offer sees you not baking a single cookie (or anything else for that matter) but rather enjoying the services of 24-hour butler service—and lots more pampering—during a seven-night stay in this exclusive archipelago in North Malé Atoll.
Among the holiday festivities wrapped into the $4,665 per night package are the aforementioned tropical-inspired gingerbread house making, a five-course Veuve Cliquot dinner, another lavish dinner with Alba truffle and Piedmont wine pairings, a six-course Japanese meal with curated sake selections, wellness workshops at the spa and—our personal favorite—nighttime snorkeling expeditions with your family to see fluorescent sea creatures that shine their colors after dark.
AC Hotel Columbus Dublin
When it comes to quaint U.S. towns for a holiday escape, Dublin, Ohio fits the bill, with its riverside setting and cozy-up vibes. And if you want a different kind of holiday dinner, book one of the igloo experiences to dine on the rooftop at Vaso at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin.
Blankets and space heaters keep things cozy inside while you snuggle up under blankets and dine on tapas accompanied by cocktails spiked with mocha and peppermint. Baby, it’s cold outside—but it’s warm and magical in here.
Swap eggnog for the creamy rum cocktail called Coquito this Navidad by spending Christmas in Puerto Rico at the Caribe Hilton, with its oceanfront swimming pools and swaying beachside hammocks awaiting travelers to San Juan.
The hotel is putting on a Noche Buena dinner for Christmas Eve at the onsite restaurant and you can look forward to traditional treats like hot cocoa and cookies to ring in the festive days, too.
What you won’t be doing in sunny Puerto Rico over Christmas, of course, is shoveling snow.
W Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
If an all-you-can-eat taco bar sounds like the idyllic Christmas Day meal to you, you can find it at the W Punta de Mita along Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. The property is promising “an indigenous holiday celebration” this festive season, although what that will entail remains to be seen.
What is so far guaranteed, however, is 25 percent off stays now through Jan. 31, 2022, with the hotel’s “Celebrate in the Sand” promotion, which you can snag by using promo code D3Q to book.
Shelbourne South Beach
While the majority of the rest of the country is shivering in its matching holiday pajamas, Miami basks in its sunshine-splashed sexy self during the holidays.
And the Shelbourne South Beach makes it tempting to book a stay with its Holiday In the Sun promotion offering up to 50 percent off the best available rate (with a $50 credit on dining or valet parking thrown in for good measure, too).
Cafecito and pastelitos make for a very Miami turn down service at the hotel and the concierge can help book jet ski tours, too, if you really want to dip into all Miami has to offer during the lovely month of December.